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DoD News Briefing: Capt. Michael Doubleday, USN, DATSD/PA

Presenters: Capt. Michael Doubleday, USN, DATSD/PA
September 19, 1995 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, September 19, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.

Capt. Doubleday: Good afternoon. I would like to start with just a couple of announcements. I'm sure that some of you have already seen the reporting that has been going on about the military equipment that's being used in the Hurricane Marilyn relief effort. What I'd like to do at the beginning of the brief today is just outline what we've been able to provide in the way of support.

We have deployed a total of 196 personnel to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They are providing services such as airfield operations control, damage assessment, transportation, and overall coordination with FEMA -- which is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. We've flown more than 70 sorties -- delivering more than 560,000 pounds of relief supplies. We've delivered such things as emergency construction material, pottable water, ice, and food. Finally, we're continuing to provide equipment, including transportation aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, emergency power, and water generation.

The Guard and the Reserve from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are also involved in the effort, providing some 800 personnel for search and rescue as well as security missions.

Q: You have a release...?

A: Can pick up after the brief that provides more detail on the effort to date.

Secondly, I'd like to announce that a combined U.S. and Kuwaiti exercise called EAGER MACE 96-1 is scheduled to begin on September 21, 1995. The exercise will involve 3,900 U.S. military personnel who will train with Kuwaiti Forces to enhance the interoperability between the forces of both nations. Training will be mainly amphibious assault in nature with an emphasis on live fire. The training will be completed on October 9, 1995. And with that, I'll be happy to answer any questions that you have. Yes?

Q: Mike, Secretary Christopher told USA Today in an interview that a smaller peace implementation force might be required in Bosnia as previously anticipated. Can you tell us what the latest is on how much smaller that might be; and, also, could you give us any information about what you would foresee in the way of Russian participation?

A: First, let me just point out that we have said for some time now that U.S. military personnel would be involved in any kind of peace implementation that was agreed to by all of the parties. For some time now, we've also tried to stay away from any specific numbers. And the reason for that is because, as yet, we don't know exactly what kind of agreement may be reached, if any. We're all very hopeful in this regard, but we don't have a map to work from. We don't have the political guidance that would come from NATO -- which is the organization that would be carrying out such an implementation plan.

We have, however, said that we would provide personnel along with other NATO nations, but I think it is very dangerous at this point to get into a numbers game because, without the plan in place, I think that it would be misleading to use any kind of numbers. And I'd noticed that, in my read of the interview that was done with Secretary Christopher, he was very careful not to use numbers, and so I will stay away from them also.

Q: What about the Russians?

A: Well, we have said all along that any kind of a peace implementation plan would involve not only NATO but other nations. And I believe that Dr. Perry is on record as saying that we certainly would welcome the participation of the Russians.

Q: Do you have any idea how they might be used?

A: Well, I think, again, it's too early to see exactly how that might work out in the end. As I say, the process that would come into play in any kind of peace implementation planning would be for guidance to come from NATO -- from the North Atlantic Council to SHAPE to the Supreme Allied Commander there in Europe, General Joulwan. And then he would put together a plan that would fold in all of the, not only the NATO forces but also make provisions for any other forces that might be involved.

Q: Mike, I'd like to follow-up on that. Five members of the Russian Parliament were reportedly on their way to Bosnia -- tagged as human shields. One, have they arrived? And two, if they do act as human shields, will that dissuade any further NATO airstrikes?

A: Well, Ivan, I think that, first of all, events have moved quite a ways beyond that, but I'd have to refer you to the Russians for any update on that situation. I've heard no reporting whatsoever on that. Yes Mike?

Q: The United States is not only committed to provide troops in the case of a peace enforcement or implementation scenario but also in the event of any withdrawal of UN troops. Now that the UN Secretary General has stated his desire to have the UN disengage militarily from Bosnia, is there any consideration of U.S. troops going in to help take out any UN troops whether or not there is a peace agreement?

A: Well, let me just point out that right now, our focus is on the effort to reach a peace agreement, and that we should be focusing our attention on that rather than on any other kind of scenario that may take place. Dr. Perry has talked about this today, and I would refer you to his comments which have been widely covered in the wires.

Q: Nevertheless, what's your understanding of what would happen were the -- in the absence of a peace agreement -- if the UN operation there were to change to some sort of multinational force? Do they simply -- do the soldiers simply change hats? Would some of them be leaving? Would any U.S. troops be going in?

A: Jamie, all I would point out to you is that at this point, I don't think speculation would be appropriate, primarily because what you have here is a recommendation that was made by the UN Secretary General to the Security Council, and the Security Council has not yet acted on that recommendation. So I think, until you get something that is a little more concrete, I just don't think it's helpful to speculate on how it may come out.

Q: Mike, can I just clear up a possible question of semantics here. Is the UN, NATO, and the United States willing to accept a permanent cease fire in lieu of a genuine peace agreement such as we had in Korea? Or is that not considered at all as a possibility or acceptable?

A: Ivan, I really can't get into the semantics of how this would work out. I think that what we're looking for is a peace agreement which is accepted by everyone; that is, the core of what we have said that we're looking for, and our position on that has not changed since that policy was developed months and months ago. Yes?

Q: In the aftermath of the incident in Okinawa that involved three U.S. military personnel, some of the local authorities have called for a review of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement. I'm wondering what your response is to that comment?

A: Well, I would refer you to the State Department. I know that the Ambassador today has apologized and has a statement, and I would just ask that you check with them on any other aspects of it.

Q: Will the personnel in question we subject to trial in a Japanese court?

A: Again, I think what you need to do is to check with the State Department. I am aware of the press reporting on this, but I have not seen any kind of internal documents that have reached our level yet. Yes?

Q: Has the military been asked by FEMA to provide any military police or anything -- law enforcement-type people -- to help with the looting in the Virgin Islands?

A: To my knowledge, that is not part of the mission at this point. The National Guard troops have done some security, but they are still under the control of the governors in Puerto Rico and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Q: Can you update us on whether it still appears at this point that the Bosnian Serbs are complying with their promise to withdraw their heavy weapons from around Sarajevo?

A: The UN continues to report compliance. I talked to some contacts that I have who had just gotten off the phone with the UN spokesman in Zagreb about an hour and a half ago and that, although the weather is pretty nasty over there, they report that there have been weapons which have moved today. They report that the airport is open, and that the roads are open. I think it's noteworthy that the airlift operations into Sarajevo resumed this past weekend, and the U.S. has two flights which were scheduled for today. They flew two yesterday, and we've flown, at this point, 84 metric tons of food into Sarajevo since resuming the operation this past Saturday. I also want to point out that the Canadians, the Germans, the French, and the British are also flying relief flights into Sarajevo.

Q: Aside from the deaths of the two peacekeepers and the incident the other day in which NATO reconnaissance planes were fired on by Bosnian Serb positions, have there been any other cases where either any of the NATO or U.S. planes or the Navy's [sic] relief planes, have they taken any hostile fire?

A: I am not aware of any other incidents, but that's not to say at this point that there have not been incidents that either did not involve NATO aircraft or involved some of the UN personnel. I think that, at this point, the assessment in this building is that it's remarkable that there have been so few incidents in the last few days.

Press: Thank you.